How to choose breakdown cover

If you’re filled with dread at the idea of being stranded miles from home with a broken car – not to mention hungry children and tomorrow’s meeting to prepare for – then you’ll want breakdown cover.

Types of breakdown cover
There are two types: vehicle and personal. Vehicle cover assists you if a specific vehicle breaks down, regardless of who’s at the wheel. Personal cover assists you in any vehicle, whether you’re the driver or a passenger.

Vehicle breakdown cover is cheaper than personal cover, but if you regularly drive more than one vehicle, personal cover might be a better option.

Choosing the right breakdown cover for you
No breakdown cover is free, but there are various levels of cover and price to suit your budget.

  1. Roadside cover
    You can get very affordable cover (from less than £20 a year) by opting for simple UK roadside assistance that will bring a patrol vehicle out to your vehicle and tow it to the nearest garage if it can’t be fixed on site.
  2. National or recovery cover
    One step up from roadside cover, national or recovery cover adds transport for you, your passengers and your vehicle to a destination of your choice.
  3. Home start
    The next level after national or recovery cover, home start sends an engineer to your home if your car won’t start. Without home start, many policies won’t cover breakdowns within a mile of the policyholder’s home.
  4. Premium cover
    The top-of-the-range cover include features such European rescue. Vehicle recovery from Europe back to the UK can be hugely expensive, so European breakdown cover is obviously a sensible option if you’re planning on to drive there. It often forms part of a regular 12-month policy, or it can be bought on a one-off basis for a specific trip. Cover for France for a day trip can be less than £5 from an organisation such as the AA.
  5. Onwards travel
    This is the most comprehensive package available, and the most expensive at £100 or more per year. It covers unexpected accommodation and car hire costs generated by a breakdown.

Other features
Some cover providers will throw in additional membership benefits or introductory deals such as half-price MoT tests. Some will use local garages to attend breakdowns, while others will have their own dedicated engineers.

Some may limit you in the number of callouts you can make within a 12-month period; others will reward customers who make no callouts by offering cheaper renewal deals. Ask what you’re entitled to when your cover comes up for renewal. Don’t simply accept the renewal quote without comparing it to other deals. There’s plenty of competition in this market, and they all want to win your business. Comparison sites are an invaluable source of information.


Last updated: about 16 hours ago